Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles, has today announced a crackdown on what he describes as a "secret state" of unelected quangos pushing up Council Tax bills for householders. This is partly in response to the decisions of Manchester, Oldham, and Rochdale councils to increase Council Tax bills in 2013-14 by 3.5 - 3.7 per cent. They have denied local people a referendum by exploiting a loophole in the Localism Act that excludes precepts to such bodies like the Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority (GMWDA) and Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM). We will be protesting against those councils in Albert Square, Manchester on 16 February at 12 noon.
Mr Pickles also went on to say:
Local authorities should be on notice that we will pay close attention to increases in their basic amount of council tax in 2013-14 and we are prepared to take action in response to any large increases. Authorities should have no doubt that we will consider setting principles in future years which are specific to authorities that increase their basic amount of council tax in 2013-14 by more than 2 per cent without having sought the approval of the local electorate in a referendum.
These proposals will increase the accountability of large numbers of elected public bodies for their money-raising and spending decisions; and, secondly they will encourage these bodies to focus on better delivery and value for money.
The only Greater Manchester authority not to announce a rise so far is Trafford. They too have had to absorb increases from GMWDA and TfGM, and Cllr Sean Anstee, Trafford's Executive Member for Finance was named earlier this week as our latest "Pin-up". We are calling on all Greater Manchester councils to follow Trafford's lead and announce a freeze.
Please join us if you can in Manchester on 16 February. If you are on Facebook, to can register to attend by clicking on this link. If you use Twitter, send me a tweet. If you prefer, you can contact me by e-mail. You can of course just turn up on the day, and please bring along your family and friends too.
What: Greater Manchester Council Tax Protest
When: 12.00 noon, Saturday 16th February
Where: Albert Square, Manchester (Outside Manchester Town Hall)